Saturday, 20 December 2008

Letting go

Christmas thoughts by a humble work in progress:-

Christmas can mean many things to many people. For some its great joy for some its heartbreaking. For me, I count my blessings. I have had the most amazing year of spiritual & personal growth, in my entire life. I appreciate each & every one of my friends. This year has been a really big challenge. All of my friendships are going through a process of realignment. Like me a work in progress. Maintaining all those friendships is something of a juggling act perhaps more like plate spinning at the circus at times. Along the way some friendships have crashed & broken, others are just hanging on. I am trying with all my heart to repair those fractured friendships. I just cannot bare to let them go. I have a deep ingrown fear of losing people I care about. Thankfully most are all still intact. It takes two to make a friendship. I feel along the way I have neglected some dear friends this year. I have certainly screwed up more than once this year. They have all made such a difference to my life. I want to reach out to all of them especially those who may be going through difficult times at this season of great emotion. There seem to be so many memories of those we have loved & lost that seem to flood through me, more & more, as each year progresses & our own mortality becomes more apparent. Crazily these feelings are colliding head on with the almost puberty/teenage stage I am experiencing at break neck speed as I transition into my new life. I feel so fortunate to still have my beloved little family & will treasure every moment especially over Christmas.

I have been inspired by so many truly brilliant gifted creative intelligent kind people this year, who have kindly given & shared so much of their lives. I have learned so much about the human spirit & inner strength. I appreciate the simple things in life so much more. I love to read about my friends successes. I share many a tear at their difficult times. Cyber hugs make a big difference when we feel so alone & isolated but as humans there are so many occasions when we need some one actually physically alongside us.

A Christmas success story with a very spiritual ending:-

I so enjoyed reading a post about the Christmas office party a dear friend of mine attended recently. I could imagine her there, just one of the girls having fun. I was selfishly just a little envious, as of all the challenges I have faced I had previously failed to be true to myself when I lost my job. I had on the very same day, she had posted her story, failed to attend my now ex companies, Christmas lunch, in the town I used to work in. I had been invited by my old colleagues who ironically have been very supportive now they know about me. It was just the cruel memories of what I went through there, that I just could not face. I wanted to chase those demons away, & find closure on this part of my life. In this case I think I really needed to let go of the past & think of the future. If this is all I have to worry about I have been very lucky.

I am so pleased for my friend. She always tried to do the right thing for her family, & for all concerned. She put so much effort into planning & preparing for her transition but that is by no means always a guarantee of success. Acceptance is perhaps a gift from another person. Above all else you have to accept yourself, & be true to your soul. It is a very painful lesson but we also have to accept we cannot be responsible for other peoples feelings. I continue to blame myself even now for hurting my beloved elderly parents. How you begin to deal with a wife & children is something far more difficult to contemplate. Missguided love with the best of intentions can hurt any or all of the family. A parents love ideally should be unconditional & for ever. It is certainly something that should never be let go. Life is sadly not always this idealistic. My friend also managed to keep her successful career as well. Miracles can happen, out of great advesity. My thoughts & prayers are that those less fortunate can receive the greatest gift of all for their Christmas.

I wrote the passage directly above regarding my thoughts & prayers only to read the blog of another dear friend I had been thinking about on Sunday evening & my prayers were answered. To think only a few years ago at one dark point on my journey I had let go of my religion & questioned in one of my self pity moods "why Lord do you make people like me, what is the point of all this?" Her "giving thanks" post captures so beautifully what God is all about. If a persons success is measured by what they have had to give up to achieve it, my brilliantly gifted friend who has a heart full of love has a great future to look forward to.

A Christmas wish:-

I wish I had a magic cure, an answer to ease the pain that so many may be going through at this time of the year, what ever the source of their anguish. For many we eventually know there is only one person here on earth who can do that. May all their prayers be answered. My heart goes out to all those who are suffering. May true Angels be looking after you. I may well have ended up swapping one set of problems for another but for me so far it is so worth it. Time will tell if I am right. Some pathways in life are after all a huge leap of faith. At this time of the year our emotions get pulled in all directions. It is such a busy, busy time we can sometimes forget some of our friends. Everyone see's how you seem but it takes very special friends to know how you feel.

A very Crunchy Christmas:-

The credit crunch is effecting so many families this year. The true meaning of Christmas perhaps seems to have been lost. May be some good will come out of adversity. It would be so easy for me to blame everything on my gender issues but that would be foolish. I still have many of the issues I had before. I am still the same person but I feel so much more comfortable with my sense of self. I feel able & sure I am giving my honest best to everything I do. I am not devoting so much energy on all my insecurities. The weight has lifted. My depression is in remission. My anxiety is still a disability which can cause me to get things wrong, even with the best of intentions. I am back to this crunchy existence called life that everyone seems to be experiencing. I am no different to any one else. No better no worse. Just as it should be in an ideal world.

Trying to live your life for all those that depend on you what ever your situation causes unimaginable stress & strain. It is no surprise we can end up feeling tired. "Dam it, my sisters! Men have it easier. We have to multi-task at Christmas & when we do things we normally do them with a lot more thought & feeling. OMG I sound like my Mum! That does not mean we always get things right, certainly not in my case & besides who am I to say what a man feels?" I write all this in slight jest but...... That's for me the crux of so much angst that people assume too much, often based on a gender specific stereo type. It can be done in fun but for some of us there is not much to laugh about.

A sacrifice well worth paying for Christmas day with all my family:-

For people who are suffering from extreme gender dysphoria & assumed to be a gender different to that which there heart & brain tells them, living dual role can be so difficult. I found the more I lived the life that felt right for me, the harder it became to continue having to disguise myself as a man. I worried that I may perhaps crack under the pressure, things may come out wrong & once said can never be unsaid. I have to drag up as a man one last time, just for two hours on Christmas day afternoon so that our small family can be together, when we visit our relations. I have been living full time in my true female gender role since January. All of my family know about Debbie except one. We have a dear Auntie, my Dads sister, who is suffering from dementure & it would only confuse the poor love & make her worse. I am dreading those few hours like never before. She with her illness unknowingly may become abusive & I will turn the other cheek. I never ever want to hurt my loved ones. It's a small price I am more than happy to pay for family unity & my dear Auntie. There came a point when I could no longer sacrifice my life for my family but I still want to try to do the right thing for them. There are all kinds of different paths. No one is right or wrong. No ones T is bigger or smaller than anyone else's t. There are often stupid labels wars within the trans community which is why I have such great respect & high regard for all of my friends who recognise this so well.

We all have different lives but possibly share a similar dysphoric often very emotional heart. Everything happens for a reason although sometimes its very hard to see why. I am going to thank God for all the wonderful things that have happened in my life, especially my new life. That very much includes having the friends I have made here. I am going to concentrate on what I am blessed with & not what I have lost or indeed never had. I say this on a day when my GD is under control & life is being kind to me. Life's not always that kind but I hope & pray it will be for those who are struggling with their emotions, one day very soon, where ever their life takes them.

My news in brief. (Well it started off that way, honestly).

I am so happy, like never before. I am just me, with that thankfully now ever decreasing but ever present white rabbit (my GD) still occasionally perched on my shoulder to remind me of life's cruel trick.

I had a set back regarding funding for my realignment surgery a week ago. I can no longer fund all my own medical needs. I may be poor but I feel like a millionaire compared with the days when I actually had much more money, as strange as that may seem. Hopefully the funding will eventually get sorted. I have waited nearly 6 months for a response to my request to be considered for funding from the NHS for my gender realignment surgery. I knew that asking to be considered for an extra contractual referral (ECR) with Mr Thomas at Brighton was never going to go down well with my PCT. I was beginning to fear I had been deliberately lost in the system. They wanted to know why I do not wish to go to Charring Cross Gender specialist unit. ChX used to have a very bad reputation as gate keepers rather than care providers but they are not like that now. I have nothing against the excellent service they provide now other than the time it may take to go through the whole process. My reasons which would probably cause a flame war on the forum I am a member of. My reasons were:-
1. CONTINUITY OF CARE, basically 12 years of specialist gender care & treatment under Dr Read & Dr Curtis together with my GP & ongoing counselling. My real life experience.
2. READINESS FOR SURGERY, my qualification to Mr Thomas requirements in February next year so that he would be willing to operate on me there after subject to funding.
3. My legal rights of PATIENT CHOICE to chose the consultant/surgeon I would like.
4. Financial Implications to my PCT. I am only asking for the cost of surgery. If I were to be referred to Charring Cross the costs would be considerably higher as they would involve payment for psychiatric assessments and evaluation that I have already undergone as well as the costing for surgery. It will all take time & there is only a limited budget & many more urgent life threatening cases which are rightly prioritised but I will get there. I am not taking this for granted. If I have to even in a housing slump I will try to raise the funds myself by selling my home if I am forced to wait too long, which would only make me ill again.

Work wise. I have done some volunteer admin work at my local tourist attraction & applied for a job there. I do not expect to get it but I may get some more much needed work experience there. I have attended my first interview in thirty years & my first ever as Debbie. It was only a mock situation but it felt real to me & was of great benefit for possible future real ones. I am so grateful for all the help I am getting. I am also going to apply to work in admin at the local hospital. I may end up stacking shelves. I do not mind at first. I just want to earn some money to pay the bills & pay my way in life again. I miss the buzz of working life but not the hassle. It will be so good for my well being if I can achieve that next year & find an employer willing to give me a chance.

I have been to four wonderful Christmas parties this month. I used to loath parties. I felt so self conscious dressed in men's clothes in that other life I used to exist in. Magically I am still the same person, still quite shy but the sense of self is so heavenly different. The gender stuff just seems to have melted away & I am accepted as a female, just little me, being true to my heart .

I went for some more voice therapy in London last week. The therapist was as lovely as ever. I still have great problems with my voice, I need to practice so much more. In truth I would still like to have the operation to permanently increase my pitch, that she recommended. Like & need are two very different things. I am not going to risk my possible funding for GRS by confusing the issue by asking for more. Sorry I digress. After the voice therapy I met my counsellor. I had bought a bottle of wine as a Christmas present for her to say thank you for the most amazing year of my life. I had not really intended to have a counselling session at all. Just a nice friendly chat. We are friends as well as counsellor & client after all the years I have been seeing her. We talked about all kinds of things. She has been with me for so long on this journey, for much of which I seemed stuck in a kind of stasis. Unable to move on. Not ready in truth. This year has been the most amazing of my life. I became a little emotional as the wine took effect. I am almost teetotal now & one small glass was one too many for me. I could be a very cheap date! LOL. I have been blessed. I have so much to celebrate & be grateful for. I have found acceptance & love from all my small family & nearly all of my friends. So we delved into the way my life had changed & I talked about my inner most feelings. The totally sober, honest & candid but probably still incoherent lowlights of that conversation are below.

Realigning friendships:-

Transitioning seems on the surface to have made very little difference to my many friendships with my female friends. They had always accepted me. Now I appear to have been further welcomed into the sisterhood. I am simply just like one of them. I cannot express how heavenly that feels. It has if anything bought us closer. To most of my married male friends who knew me before, I am no longer their mate but I am still their friend. Just a female friend which is great. I cannot possibly imagine their wives could ever see some one like me as a threat but somehow I feel I may get less invites to smaller gatherings than before. If that happens I guess I may never know the real reasons why. Being single in a couple dominated world has never been easy but it had never bothered me before. The social rules & etiquette are all so new to me.

For my few unmarried male friends who I have known for over thirty years it is so complicated. I have to face up to the reality I am going to probably lose them. They have known me from my teenage days when I tried to play the part of what I thought a man should be & hid my feelings behind a male looking mask, washed down with occasionally way too much alcohol. They all kindly supported me when I came out to them as TS & they said it would make no difference to our continued friendship. Since I transitioned I have spoken to them on the phone & they appeared ok with me. We have never met in person since I started living full time as a woman. One in particular who is/was my best male friend, a guy I have known since I was eighteen appears to have started to distance himself from me. I actually tried to date his current long term girl friend but only after they split up in the early stages of their relationship. I had been too drunk to realise it was wrong of me at the time & could never ever happen. I would never cheat on a friend. I cancelled the date. We go back a long way. We have been on holiday together just the two of us, platonically, several times. I think he & probably most of my long term friends thought I was simply a closet gay. I am a virgin & sex has just not been a part of my life. I some how shut those feelings down as a teenager, actually very easily. Being referred to as trans-sexual when my condition has nothing to do with my sexuality is a source of frustration which I feel has never helped people like me, as the media use it as some kind of smutty club to beat us with.

Distant dreams of possibly one day having a fulfilling relationship:-

Those feelings were too painful too confused way back when I was young & going through the hell that was my puberty nightmare. Well now those feelings are re-emerging. I am allowing myself to think about them as my dreamed of life becomes an achievable reality. I have always thought of myself as heterosexual, if I really pushed myself to delve into such thoughts. At the confused time we had became mates/buddies I liked/loved/wanted/needed to be a woman. I miss my male friend. I miss having men friends particularly him. He knows I have many more creative friends now & so I will not be lonely but he gave away something to my Mum in a phone conversation in May. According to my Mum it was like he was checking I would be ok & not be on my own. By his tone & unspoken words he was preparing the ground to say good by. I am crying just writing this & it is not me being tipsy this time. I have not heard or seen him since, apart from one call I made to him & he was cold & distant. I believe with all my heart he is still my friend but the dynamics of our friendship have changed so much now for obvious reasons. I had assumed he had been afraid of how I may look as a woman. I thought perhaps he may feel threatened or at risk if he thought I looked like a drag queen. How would people perceive us. A gay couple, an illicit affair or just friends. If I looked like a normal'ish woman (which I hope I do) what then? Would his girlfriend/partner wonder what our friendship was all about. As my counsellor pointed out "what if he fancied you?" I doubt this but... Can men & women just be friends? It seems like we are destined not to be. Letting go is so painfully difficult.

As a single female I am finding it is interestingly very different, very liberating but also very frustrating. I need my deformities corrected a.s.a.p. because of the way I was born with a female brain not because of my sexuality but................... Relationships are too complicated now & who knows for me may always be. I am just tired of having the wrong body & knowing as I am now, I may at best have to either lie, which I do not want to do, or tell the truth & probably see them run away or worse. I am a heterosexual woman & would like to be accepted as such although realistically this may never happen. Could I live with that knowledge? That is a really scary thought. I miss my men friends like I never ever dared dream of! Letting go of these friend/relationships, is proving so hard to do but is a price I should have realised I was likely to have to pay. It is hurting me like crazy but all my friendships are adjusting & it will just take more time. Moving on is so difficult. At least I have hope in my heart, that one day just may be, there may be some one out there for me.

I have let go so much random thought here, perhaps way too much. I hope & pray you all have far more enjoyable things in your life to do than to have read this far in my humble blog. You have all been special friends to me at such a dramatic time in my life & so often your own. Bless your hearts. There is no place like home. I may be gone for quite some time, my beloved family are calling me, something specials going on! Debbie's first Christmas, yipeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

May Christmas be kind to you.
May all your hopes & dreams come true in 2009.

Lots of love

Saturday, 6 December 2008

The spirit of Christmas

Christmas is for me a time for family & friends, full of memories & emotion. It is also often a time for reflection, what ever religion you may be. How I wish mankind could all live together in peaceful acceptance of each other.

I have been thinking a lot about my dear friends recently. Some are doing really well, some are going through unbelievably difficult times. They all are blessed with a wonderful spirit which is pushed to the limit due to circumstances beyond their control. My thoughts are with you all but particularly at this difficult time with dear Jo, Julia, Teri, Katy, Linda & her beloved friend Sasha, to name but a few.

Dear Jo they say everything happens for a reason but my heart goes out to you. You are in my thoughts & prayers. I hope you get the all clear real soon.

I am finally taking Dad to see the specialist again on Monday to discuss his scan results & find out if there is anything they can do to help with his hearing loss. Waiting & not knowing was the worst bit. I just hope PALS got their information correct.

When I first began this journey in 1996 I was captivated by the words of a song. The name of the band escapes me but the words still hold true. In life, you never know what may happen next. Plan for tomorrow but live for today.

This is your life

Where is the purpose in your life?
Where is the truth?
Do you remember?
Your hopes, your dreams?
They may no longer be your own!
Each day is for living your Own Life!
Do not let this world capture your Heart!
Your passions lost to a thousand themes.
You possibly acted like a child playing games.
Played pretend & the art of disguise.
Alone & lost for too much of your life.
There is no rehearsal!
No second chance!
No thoughts are better!
No circumstance!
This is not a story!
This is not a hope!
This is your life!

I have had the most amazing year thanks to the support of my wonderful family & friends. The experiences we have shared, the kind words & love that's been given, from all over the world, makes such a difference. I never knew blogging could be like this. Bless you all.

I have always known my true self but until this year I have never known if I can live that life. I still have days of doubt but they are few. I am a work in progress, still learning, still eradicating the ravages of testosterone poisoning from my body, but so grateful & happy to be alive.

Tomorrow I am going to my Art Societies Christmas lunch. My first ever Christmas party as Debbie. Shy quiet little me. I was so scared to be me. I used to be terrified of parties & social occasions. This year I am so looking forward to meeting up with all my creative friends. I am far from confident now but I feel so unbelievably different. Spiritually in a completely different place, which seems quite appropriate for this time of year.

You have all touched my heART. It is a bit early but for the first time in my new life I just want to say to Jo, Nicky, Jessica, Julia, Doris, Kate, Katy, Anji, Alan, Denise, Rebecca, Alex, Lucy, Lori, Karen, Teri, Heather, Julia M, Dee, Michelle, Chloe, Shauna, Jenny, Veronica, Debbie D, Fran, Paula, Chris & Jackie.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas. Good health & happiness. May all your dreams come true in 2009.
Lots of love